Welcome to the Talon Mailing & Marketing June 2011 Newsletter.
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Card Companies Could Stop Spam Now, but Will They?
by Paul Wagenseil,
For more than a decade,
computer software makers and security experts have tried to stop spam, and
failed — it's now 90 percent of all email traffic.
But some University of California researchers may have found the magic
bullet: Simply cut off the money.
It turns out that while spammers use thousands of domain names and
hundreds of shell companies to peddle Viagra, knockoff handbags and
pirated software, almost all sales of those goods are handled by just
three banks in Azerbaijan, Latvia and the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts
Furthermore, almost every single sale made by spammers is processed by
credit card clearinghouses such as MasterCard or Visa.
The researchers argue that the major credit card companies could stop spam
dead in its tracks by refusing to process payments. But will they?
"The main problem is that spam isn't necessarily illegal," said Mikko
Hypponen of the Helsinki, Finland security company F-Secure, in an
interview on May 19 with BBC Radio. "This depends on which
country you are [in], how it's being sent and all that."
"And we have to remember that spam is actually very profitable for the
credit card companies themselves," added Hypponen, who was not involved
with the University of California study. "That might affect how likely
they are to actually do something about this."
Following the money
A team of 15 researchers based at the University of California, San Diego,
and the University of California, Berkeley, used prepaid Visa cards to buy
thousands of dollars' worth of goods advertised online by spammers.
"Spam-based advertising is a business," they argue in their paper. "While
it has engendered both widespread antipathy and a multi-billion-dollar
anti-spam industry, it continues to exist because it fuels a profitable
They traced the payments through a complicated web of affiliate programs
and back-end processors, only to find dramatic consolidation at the
Only a dozen or so organizations were running the online stores selling
the goods, and only 13 banks were handling the money.
In fact, 95 percent of the transactions were handled by just three banks:
Azerigazbank in Azerbaijan, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank in St.
Kitts and Nevis (which has been linked to online scams) and the Latvian
branch of DnB NORD, a Danish subsidiary of a Norwegian bank.
The researchers suggested that these banks could be pressured into
refusing to process transactions from spammers, but doubted whether it
would work. The online stores could find new banks, and "it is not even
clear that the sale of such goods is illegal in the countries in which
such banks are located."
Far more effective would be pressuring the major credit
card associations to halt processing of spam-related sales, which could be
easily identified and put on a "financial blacklist."
"We can provide credit card companies with lists of known spammers or
known spam back ends -- those are the systems they actually use to move
the money around," Hypponen told the BBC. "With that information, credit
card companies, like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, they can simply
shut down the operations and stop money flowing from their cards to those
The University of California researchers note that although telling credit
card companies how to run their businesses might present "political
challenges," there is already a precedent.
Five years ago, the U.S. Congress forced the credit card associations to
stop processing payments from U.S. residents to online gambling companies,
effectively shutting down the industry in this country.
Five Ways to Create Better Direct Mail
by Margie Clayman,
Here are some ideas about how to make direct mail a
more effective, more engaging marketing tool for your business.
If there is one traditional marketing tactic that gets
close to as much flack as advertising, it has to be direct mail. You’ve
probably heard it all before. “Direct mail is like throwing spaghetti
against the wall and seeing what sticks.” “Direct mail is a close cousin
of cold calling.” “Direct mail is so…indirect.”
Like King Kong, I think direct mail as a marketing tactic is just
misunderstood. There are just as many ways now as there were 50 years ago
to use direct mail effectively and in an engaging style. Probably more.
Like with everything, we just need to think in some different ways. Here
are some ideas about how to make direct mail a more effective, more
engaging marketing tool for your business.
1. Apply email logic: You probably
have heard by now that before blasting out an email, you want to make
sure you get people to opt-in to your communications. Otherwise you can
be labeled as a spammer. With direct mail, there is a similar reaction – it’s
called, “This piece is going right into my trash can.” Before sending out
a mass direct mailing, qualify your audience. There are lots of ways to
do this, including:
Rent names from a list house where geography, type of industry, and
other factors can be filtered.
Rent a list from a trade publication that is audited – that way you know
the list is qualified.
Rent a list from a trade show/event; . this list of people is clearly
engaged in the industry.
Send an email to your database saying, “Hey, can I send you…xyz?” Use
email to opt in your audience.
2. Keep that consistent message: Is
this starting to sound like a broken record yet? If so, good. This is so
important. If you are Tweeting to people and then you decide to send that
same audience a direct mail piece, how can you let them know that you’re
the same company? That you value their relationships just as you indicate
3. Make it useful: Just like with
email, people are getting bombarded every day by come-ons, little
gadgets, catalogs – all kinds of stuff. You know. You get all of that
stuff, too. What sticks out in your pile of paper? The thing that can
help you solve a problem. I always think of that scene from Chicken Run.
“I’m tired of making miniscule profits!” And then, there on the desk,
appears a flier that asks, “Tired of making miniscule profits?”
4. Let your audience interact: The
people you are sending mail to are hopefully overlapping with the people
who are liking your Facebook page and following your Tweets. They’ve
established that they have insights about your company, your products,
and/or your services. Why muzzle them with your direct mail piece? Ask
them to respond by posting a video to your Facebook page, or include a
survey that could be returned as an entry into a contest. Include a link or
QR code that takes the recipient to a relevant video. Converse.
5. Think outside the box: This is so
important, just as it is with your website, with your advertising, and
with all of your marketing. Postcards can serve a purpose, but there is
so much more that can be done now with direct mail campaigns. From DVD
mailers to things I’ve never seen and can barely imagine, this marketing
channel is ready and waiting for a slam-dunk, thoughtful, engaging
campaign. Are you ready to send one out there?
Traditional media is not dead. Far from it. It can offer a depth to
online marketing that you may be missing at your own peril. And
traditional media does not negate the need for Social Media, video, and
mobile interaction. In order to grow your business, you need to be able
to do it all. And you need to be able to do it all in a way that engages
with your customers and prospects.
U.S. Postal Service Complaint, Burger King Agrees to Modify Ad
The U.S. Postal Service wants Americans to know that even the
temptation of French toast sticks and a Double Crossain'wich wouldn't stop
its letter carriers from delivering the mail on time.
After unleashing its lawyers, the U.S. Postal Service has struck a settlement
with Burger King over an ad campaign launched last year that featured a
letter carrier getting distracted from his job by delicious Burger King
Apparently, the Postal Service did not appreciate the portrayal. In the
ad, a letter carrier in a uniform resembling that of a Postal Service
employee sang about the joys of Burger King's new breakfast menu. The
offending verse was: "With pancakes and eggs on my plate, the mail has to
According to a Postal Service statement issued Friday, the agency asked
the fast food giant to stop airing the ad, arguing that Burger King used
its logo and uniform without permission while portraying a letter carrier
in a "less than favorable light."
Though Burger King denied wrongdoing, they reached a settlement allowing
the company to use a uniform similar to the official Postal Service garb,
minus the logo. Burger King is expected to air a "revised" and "more
positive" commercial -- one that presumably leaves viewers feeling better
about the work ethic of their letter carriers.
Burger King also said in a statement that the company would "revise the
logo on the mail carrier uniform" under the new agreement. The company
said it stopped airing the original ad in March and does not plan to air
Win Yankee Tickets!
Enjoy a great day at Yankee Stadium!
We are giving away two tickets to see the New York Yankees.
you have to do to win is be the first telephone caller (please don’t hit reply or send an email). Voice
mail messages count so it's fine to leave a message. Call Michael Borkan at
(631) 667-5500 x 11. These tickets are great seats and close to the field!
Sunday, June 12, 2011. Yankees vs.
Cleveland Indians, 1:05
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Talon Mailing & Marketing Newsletter please
Credit Card Companies Could Stop Spam Now, but Will They?
Five Ways to Create Better Direct Mail
After U.S. Postal Service Complaint, Burger King Agrees to Modify Ad
Yankees Ticket Giveaway!
Mike Borkan's Links - Web sites you probably
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Direct Mail Humor!
Talon welcomes the following new clients this month to our growing
roster of customers:
Mike's Favorite Links:
Some interesting links...
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Phone number: 800-224-2242
- A most unusual link. Call this number from your cell phone. This
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- Bestselling author Frank Rumbauskas shows you the secrets to never cold
The Email Game - Meet
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